LONDON: Kolkata-born British author Neel Mukherjee's latest novel The Lives of Others, set in troubled Bengal of the 1960s and centres around a dysfunctional family, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize 2014, in its debut as a global literary award.
Mukherjee, who studied at Oxford and Cambridge, was also the only Indian-origin author to be longlisted earlier this year, the first time the prestigious literary award opened up for anyone writing in English regardless of nationality.
"We are delighted to announce our international shortlist. As the Man Booker Prize expands its borders, these six exceptional books take the reader on journeys around the world, between the UK, New York, Thailand, Italy, Calcutta and times past, present and future," said A C Grayling, chair of the 2014 judging panel.
"We had a lengthy and intensive debate to whittle the list down to these six. It is a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English," he added.
Mukherjee, now a British citizen, has been selected for his second novel published in May this year. The book is based in Kolkata and centres around a dysfunctional Ghosh family in the 1960s.
Mukherjee reviews fiction for the Times and the Sunday Telegraph and his first novel, A Life Apart was a joint winner of the Vodafone-Crossword Award in India.
The others on the shortlist include American authors Joshua Ferris for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour and Karen Joy Fowler for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; Australian Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North; and British authors Howard Jacobson for J and Ali Smith for How to be Both.
Previously, the prize was open only to authors from the UK and Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.
For the first time in its 46-year history, the 50,000- pound prize has been opened up to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK.
The rules of the prize changed at the end of 2013, to embrace "the freedom of English in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory wherever it may be," opening up to writers beyond the UK and the Commonwealth.
It puts Jacobson up with the chance to become the first British man to win twice. He is a former winner with The Finkler Question in 2010.
Ali Smith has been shortlisted twice before, with The Accidental (2005) and Hotel World (2001).
The judges will now re-read the shortlisted titles to select the winner, whose name will be declared on October 14 at a ceremony at London's Guildhall.
The shortlisted authors each receive 2,500 pounds and a specially-bound edition of their book.
On winning the Man Booker Prize, an author will receive a further 50,000 pounds and can expect overnight fame and international recognition as well as a dramatic increase in book sales.
Manny Roman, CEO of Man Group-- the sponsors of the prize since 2002, said: "We are very proud to sponsor the Man Booker Prize, recognising the hard work and creativity of these talented authors.
"The prize underscores Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education as well as our commitment to excellence and entrepreneurship.
"Together with the wider charitable activities of the Man Booker Foundation, the prize plays a very important role in promoting literary excellence that we are honoured to support. Many congratulations to the shortlisted authors."
The Man Booker Prize, formerly the Booker Prize, was first awarded in 1969 to P H Newby for Something to Answer For.
It is widely regarded as a touchstone for high quality literary fiction written in English, including in its canon many of the literary trailblazers of the 20th and 21st centuries from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel.